Friday, March 02, 2012
ISAAC, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/2/2012
THE REALITIES OF A PILGRIM’S LIFE, Lesson 35a
The Patriarch Isaac was a man who lived in the shadows. If you think about it, he lived his live first under the shadow of his great father Abraham, then he lived his live in the shadow of his great son Jacob. Abraham is the star of some 14 chapters of the book of Genesis and Jacob is the central figure of another 12 or so. But Isaac, is only featured in a handful of chapters. It is only here, in this 26th chapter of Genesis that we are allowed a glimpse into the life and work of this man.
Among the things we note about him is that he was a man of faith, (v. 2-5). In fact, he is listed in Hebrews 11:20 among the great heroes of the faithful. We can also see here that he, like the rest of us, was far from perfect, (v. 6-11), because he was guilty of committing some of the same sins that his father Abraham had committed. Another thing we notice about this man is the fact that he was a pilgrim. That is, he moved from place to place, like his father, not actually owning any of the land upon which he lived.
It is in his role as a pilgrim that Isaac pictures the child of God. If I may I remind you , the Bible teaches us very clearly that we are “strangers and pilgrims” in this world, (1 Pet. 2:11). The word “strangers” means “a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship”. And, the word “pilgrim” means, “sojourning in a strange place; a metaphor for one who sojourns on earth”. In fact, the Bible tells us that every saved person is a citizen of heaven, (Phil. 3:20, 1 Pet. 1:4-5).
Today, I want to examine the life of Isaac the pilgrim. Because in his pilgrimage through the world, encounters many of the same problems and he experiences many of the same blessings that cross paths with us as we journey toward glory. Let’s take a few minutes today to examine the life of this man, and as we do, I just want to point out “The Realities Of A Pilgrim’s Life“. There is help and hope in this passage today for everyone who is walking the pilgrim’s path!
V. 12-14a IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PROVISIONS
The Size Of The Provisions - We are told that Isaac enjoyed a 10,000% return on his investment! What makes this all the more astounding is the fact that this occurred during a time of famine, (v. 1). While everyone around him was going broke and starving to death, Isaac prospered. His crops flourished while the crops of others dried up. His flocks and herds grew while the flocks and herds of others starved and died of thirst. It seemed like Isaac had the golden touch.
The Source Of The Provisions - Some may have called it good luck, others may have looked upon Isaac and wondered how he did it, but the fact of the mater is this: God was just blessing him! Isaac wasn’t a better farmer than the other farmers. He didn’t know more about botany, horticulture or zoology than the other men around him. But, he did have an advantage, he knew God and that translated into blessings in his life when others were experiencing defeat! You see, when the famine arose, there was evidently a temptation within Isaac’s heart to flee to Egypt like Abraham had before him, (v. 2). However, in obedience to the Lord’s command, he stayed where he was, in the midst of that famine, and God honored his obedience! I would just like to point something out to every believer today: the very fact that you know God in a personal way places you in a position to enjoy His wonderful provisions in your life! You may look at your situation today and say, “Preacher, it sure doesn’t look like I’m receiving a 10,000% return on my investment! I’m saved, following the Lord and trying to be obedient, but I’m just about flat broke and everything is falling apart in my life!” Friends, just because God isn’t paving your path with diamonds and giving you a new Rolls Royce every year doesn’t mean that He isn’t blessing you.
Look at it this way: you may have it as bad, or even worse, than those around you who aren’t saved, but you have something they do not have! You have a personal relationship with the Lord God of Heaven! What does that give you? Well, the list is almost endless, but a few of the benefits are:
1. Eternal salvation - never lost!
2. The presence of God in your life - never alone!
3. The power of God working in your life - never in a hopeless situation!
4. The promises of God active in your life - never without hope!
5. The Word of God to guide your life - never without direction!
The list could go on, but you think about it; if you are saved and your neighbor is not, who’s children have a better hope of heaven? What kind of a value do you on place on that? Would you rather have money or the Master? Well, if you have the Master, He will take care of all the real needs in your life anyway! Isaac enjoyed the great blessings that he did because he was obedient to the command of God, (v. 2-4). The same thing holds true for you and me. If we will put God where He belongs: first; then, He will see to the rest of our lives, (Matt. 6:33). No one said this life would be easy, in fact the Bible teaches the opposite, but, those who walk with God know that He is in control, “The unseen hand of providence“! What looks like the worst disaster you ever faced can be used of God to bring into your life some of the greatest blessings you have ever enjoyed, (Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17).
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Mansion Over The Hilltop” By Ira Stanhill (1949)
I'm satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that's silver lined
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold
Don't think me poor or deserted or lonely
I'm not discouraged I’m heaven bound
I'm but a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold
Invite A Friend To The Team!
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Following In The Footsteps Of Faith , 3/1/2012
ABRAHAM GATHERED TO HIS PEOPLE, Lesson 34
These verses record the end of a great life! Abraham was taken from among a pagan people and make the Father of the Faithful. He was taught the harsh lessons of faith and obedience. He suffered for God and he enjoyed the best God had to offer. In the end, his life is concluded by the words "and was gathered to his people."
As I consider the life of this great man, I realize that there are certain characteristics that were present in his life that need to be found in us as well. I would like to point out just a few of those characteristics as we conclude our study of this great man of faith. As we come to the end of this study and to the end of Abraham's life, I see some similarities with what could have been said about him and what might be said about us when we too leave this world. These similarities are made clear by the characteristics I want to point out. So, while we have this time to look into the Word of God, let's consider this thought, "Abraham: Gathered To His People."
When someone dies, three things usually come up at some point during a discussion of the deceased individual's life. Those three things are: 1.) How they lived their life; 2.) Some of the events surrounding their death; and 3.) Where did they stand with the Lord. These are the three characteristics I want to talk about this.
HOW HE LIVED HIS LIFE
It Was A Life Of Faith - One of the clearest and most striking things about Abraham's life is how he lived everyday and took every step by faith in God. His faith was not declared by him, but it was declared years later by the writer of the book of Hebrews, (Heb. 11:8). This is the kind of life that God wants everyone of His children to live, (Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23; Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38). If the people of God could ever learn to let go of their lives and leave them in the hands of the Lord, it would revolutionize our lives and forever end the struggles we have with worry and fear, (Phil. 4:6-7). Faith is not just for the super saint, it is for all believers… Even you!
It Was A Life Of Following - Heb. 11:9 tells us that the life of Abraham was one lived in the acts of following. Wherever the Lord pointed him, that was the direction he took. It would seem that Abraham had no life of his own, but that his life was one totally given over to the will of the Lord. A life spent following the Lord is a life that will always end up in the right place! Why? (Ps. 37:23)! When He leads the destination is assured!
It Was A Life Of Favor - Because Abraham walked in faith and followed the Lord regardless of where He led him, God abundantly blessed the life of this amazing man. He blessed him financially, militarily, physically, spiritually and He blessed Abraham's family as well. Of course, this had been the oft repeated promise that Abraham had been given by the Lord, (Gen. 12:2-3; 17:16; 22:17). God had promised to bless him and God did just that! I can guarantee you that a life lived for the Lord is a life that will not lack blessing! He may not bless you in the ways you want Him too, but I can guarantee you that He will bless your life in the ways that matter the most! (Eph. 1:3). It is worthy of noting how the life of Abraham fleshed out the list of graces that are to characterize those who believe in Jesus (2 Peter 1:5-11). He had all of these great attributes in his life and it proved that a work of grace had been done in his heart! By the way, we are to be abounding in these things as well! Why? When we have them in our lives in abundance, they make us fruitful, (v. 8); they give us assurance of our salvation, (v. 9); they help prevent us from falling, (v. 10); they give us a glorious entrance into the kingdom, (v. 11).
HOW HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE
In his life, Abraham was a wonderful example of what a believer should be, but even in his dying there are precious truths that can be seen in him that should mark all those who know the Lord Jesus!
He Laid It Down With Readiness - v. 8 - "He gave up the ghost" - There was not struggling to stay, but a simple releasing of life when it came time to go. He had lived a full and long life, 175 years, but when the time came to make the crossing out of this life into the next, Abraham did so with grace and serenity. Why? Because he had spent his life looking for a particular city. Not a city that can be found on this earth, but an everlasting city made by the hands of God in Heaven, (Heb. 11:10). Abraham knew that Sarah was waiting on him on the other side. He knew that the only way to reach that city and to be with Sarah again was to give up the ghost. That he did without fear, fretting or fighting. His deathbed scene was one of peace!
Everyone has looked beyond the years to a day when we too will make this crossing. It isn't something we discuss, but it does come to mind from time to time! I have noted that the passing years seem to bring the thought around more often. However, those who know the Lord have a great assurance when we look at the day of our departure! We have the Lord's promise concerning that day. For us, it will be a time of laying aside the temporary for the permanent, (2 Cor .5:1). It will be a time of leaving the land of the dying to enter the land of the living, (John 11:25-26). It will be a time of passing through the veil to stand in the presence of the Lord Himself, (2 Cor. 5:8). It will be nothing more that a "departure", (2 Tim. 4:6), from this life and an entrance into a new and better life in that same city Abraham looked for. Abraham knew it before there was even a Bible from which to read it! He knew it by faith and so do I! How about you?
He Laid It Down With Reassurance - The Bible tells us that he was "gathered to his people." This does not have reference to the grave! No, he was buried with Sarah in Canaan. His people had died in Haran and Ur. Abraham was gathered to those who had died before him in faith! He went to that place where those died in faith were waiting for him, (Luke 16:23)! They were all waiting for another One Who came into their midst with some glorious news one day!
When Jesus died on the cross, He descended into Paradise with the glorious news that redemption had been purchased for all those who had died in faith! With that news, He lead them out of Paradise and into Heaven in a glorious parade of triumph and victory, (Eph. 4:8-10; 1 Pet. 3:19)! Somehow, Abraham knew this by faith! You and I have a better assurance that even Abraham had! He was to go to Paradise to stay until the price was paid. Neither he, nor anyone else, knew how long that would be! They were looking forward to that event. We look backward at that event today! It is finished! The way is opened and all those who died in faith are immediately gathered home to the presence of the Lord in Heaven!
HOW HE LOVED HIS LORD
A third characteristic of Abraham's life that is worthy of note is how he loved the Lord.
His Love Was Displayed - All through his life, he simply obeyed what the Lord told him to do! When the Lord said go, he went. When the Lord said do, he did. When the Lord said stay, he stayed. He obeyed even when the command was difficult and costly. He obeyed when every instinct within him told him to do the opposite. You see, the true essence of love for the Lord is that genuine love always manifests itself in obedience to God, regardless of what He says to do! This was a truth that became crystal clear because of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, (John 14:15; 21). We can say anything we wish about the level of our love for Him, but the ultimate expression of our love for Jesus will be found in how we obey Him in whatever He tells us to do!
His Love Was Declared - As you read the Bible, you see the love of Abraham declared. But, it is never declared by Abraham! Isn't that strange? There are lots of people who want to tell us how much they love the Lord. Abraham didn't talk about it, he just did it! There is a big difference! However, the love of Abraham is declared in the Bible. It is mentioned by a man named Jehoshahat in 2 Chr. 20:7. God Himself talks of this man Abraham and his love for the Lord in Isa. 41:8. Both of these references refer to Abraham as being a "friend" of the Lord. This means "one well beloved by another." You may wonder how I can make to leap from Abraham being called a friend of God to his love for the Lord. The answer lies in what Jesus said in John 15:14 and in John 14:15. Taken together, those two passages tell us that one who is God's friend is one who is obedient to the Lord. And, those who walk in obedience are those who really love Him!
Conc: As you consider these characteristics from the life of Abraham, I wonder how your life measures up. How is your life being lived? Are you ready to lay it down the right way when the time comes? Do you really love the Lord today? These are extremely important questions that need to be addressed in your life and mine. I don't want to be Abraham, but I do want to look at those areas in my life that could be changed to line up more clearly with what God found pleasing in his life. We should all want to glean the best of Abraham's characteristics and make them true in our own lives as well!
NOTE: My computer may be down today because I have a dental appointment and we are switching internet company, but hopefully we will be back with YOU on Friday. Then we will continue to look at Isaac and Joseph.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
ABRAHAM & ISAAC, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 2/29/2012
WILT THOU GO WITH THIS MAN, Lesson 33,
Abraham the old patriarch is dying. Before he does, he wants to find a bride for his son Isaac. He sends a nameless servant to his relatives home to find this bride. The servant does what he was sent to do. He finds a bride for Isaac and succeeds in his mission returning home with a bride for his master’s son, Isaac. For Rebekah, her encounter with Abraham’s servant came down to one important question, “Wilt thou go with this man?”, (v. 58). She said, “I will go” and this response changed her life forever!
From a spiritual viewpoint, everything boils down to the very same question. You see, in this story, Abraham is a picture of God the Father. The Servant represents the Holy Spirit. Rebekah represents the church, or those saved by grace and Isaac is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Father has sent His Holy Spirit into this world to call out a bride for Jesus Christ, (John 16:7-11). Like Abraham’s servant, the Holy Spirit does not promote Himself, but He talks about Jesus and calls lost people to come to Him for salvation, (John 16:13-14). Those who have Jesus revealed to their hearts by the Holy Spirit and hear Him say “Wilt thou go with this man?”, are brought face to face with the greatest question man will ever face! How you answer that question determines where you spend your eternity!
Today, I want to look at this passage from Rebekah’s perspective. I want to point out a few thought that should make saying “Yes!” to the question “Wilt thou go with this man?” a little easier.
SOME MATTERS ARE VERY CLEAR TO REBEKAH
Isaac Is A Man Of Mystery - The name of this man is not even revealed to Rebekah! This servant had over 500 miles to teach Rebekah about Isaac and his bag of riches. To a lost person, Jesus Christ can be mysterious and frightening. Lost people have all kinds of questions and fears The best way to learn about Jesus is to come to Him by faith. The Spirit of God will teach us all about Him as we journey toward home! The Holy Spirit is in the teaching business (John 16:13-14). We will never get Him all the way figured out, until we get home!
Isaac Is A Man Of Money - Everything Abraham owns is in the hand of the servant, (v. 35-36). Laban is very interested in this! Everything the Heavenly Father owns has been given to His son, (Rom. 8:17), and He shares all He has with His Bride (The Church). The scope of this thought is expressed in Deut. 10:14; 1 Cor. 10:26 - Look up and look around, everything you see belongs to Him and to us! ( 1 Cor. 2:9)! He is well able to care for His bride!
Isaac Is A Man Of Matrimony - ( V. 4, 34-49) - Isaac is a man looking for a bride! It was every woman’s desire, in that day, to marry and have children. For Rebekah this must have been thrilling! Out of all the women this rich, eligible man could have chosen, he chose her! Don’t take to call of God to be saved lightly! To be called to come to Him for salvation is an honor beyond compare! When you think of the lost man’s condition, (Eph. 2:1-3; 12) and what the Lord wants to do for him, (Eph. 2:13-22), it is an honor to be called and chosen to come to him for salvation!
SOME MATTERS ARE VERY CONCEALED TO REBEKAH
Her Road Is Concealed - She does not know what lies between where she is and where he is! There are many unknowns along the way, but the servant has all the necessary resources to make the journey successful! . Some of the questions she might have had! None of us knows what will happen between here and Heaven! But, we can rest in the sure knowledge that He knows and plans the road ahead, (John 10:4; Ps. 37:25), and that He will go with us all the way home,( Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5)! Not a single one who begins the journey with Jesus will fail to make it home unless they fail to do so! The road may be rough and it may be fraught with peril, but we are ALL going through!
Her Reception Is Concealed - When he sees her what will he think of her? Will she be accepted? Will she be loved? Notice that all her fears were in vain, (v. 67! My lost friend, you need not wonder whether Jesus will have you or not. If you will come to Him, He will never turn you away, (John 6:37)! If you are already saved, you need not fear His rejection at the end of the journey!
Her Reward Is Concealed - What is in this for Rebekah? Is this offer for real? If I could answer her, I would tell her, “Rebekah, you get a new Father, a new Family, a new Faith, a new Fortune, a new Future, a new Fame. Rebekah, you get more than you could ever imagine when you get Isaac!” The world, the flesh and the devil will try to tell the believer that there is no payoff in serving God. But, you remember this: the rewards for coming to Jesus are without number and without limit, (1 Cor. 2:9; Rom. 8:32; Eph. 1:3).
SOME MATTERS ARE VERY CERTAIN TO REBEKAH
She Is Willing To Choose - (v. 58) - Even though she does not know all there is to know about Isaac, she knows that she wants to be with him. She doesn’t have all the information, but she has enough to choose! He sounds just like the man she wants to be married to. Salvation boils down to your wanting Him more than you want anything else in life. Being saved means coming to a place where you are willing to choose Jesus over your sins; Heaven over Hell; God over Satan. Salvation is about you reaching a place where you want to be free more than you want to be bound! Salvation is about you coming to a place of faith in Jesus Christ alone, (Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9). Rebekah looked around and said, “I want him more than anything I have here. I will go!” Salvation comes down to your being willing to make Him your choice, after He has made you His choice, (John 15:16)! Don’t allow anything to stand between you and your soul’s salvation! Nothing you can name in this world or in the world to come is more valuable than your being saved,( Mark 8:36-37; Mark 9:43-48)!
She Is Willing To Change - Rebekah has come to the place where she esteems Isaac as being more valuable than anything else in her life. She is willing to turn her back on everything to go be with Him. She is willing to live in a new place, in a new way, under new management! This is the essence of salvation. It is a total life change, because it is a new life, (John 3:3, 7; 2 Cor. 5:17). Coming to Christ means coming to the place where you are willing to turn your back on the old life forever and embrace a new way of living and walking. Many balk at this point, but a heart of repentance is a necessary component of salvation, (Luke 13:3)!
She Is Willing To Commit - Rebekah has reached the place where she is willing to commit the rest of her life to being Isaac’s wife. She is willing to give her all to him! Salvation is not about mere profession, it is about total commitment! There is no place in the church for so-called “easy-believism”. Salvation is a radical commitment to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of your life, with no reservations! Salvation comes when a lost sinner is convicted of his sins and is drawn to Christ. When that sinner believes the Gospel and repents of sin, he or she is saved! Salvation is a total, radical, permanent commitment!
Conc: Rebekah made her decision to go to Isaac. As a result, she was loved, blessed and lived a happy, joyous life. It all happened because she said, “I will go!” when she heard the question, “Wilt thou go with this man?” What about you my friend? Jesus is calling, isn’t He? In your heart, you are hearing that same question asked today, “Wilt thou go with this man?” Well, will you? If you will come to Jesus, He will save you and change your life forever. You and you alone can decide what you will do with Jesus!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Lord, I’m Coming Home” By W. J. Kirkpatrick (1892)
I’ve wandered far away from God, Now I’m coming home; The paths of sin too long I’ve trod, Lord, I’m coming home.
Coming home, coming home, Nevermore to roam; Open wide Thine arms of love, Lord, I’m coming home.
I’ve wasted many precious years, Now I’m coming home; I now repent with bitter tears, Lord, I’m coming home.
I’m tired of sin and straying, Lord, Now I’m coming home; I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy word, Lord, I’m coming home.
My soul is sick, my heart is sore, Now I’m coming home; My strength renew, my hope restore, Lord, I’m coming home.
INVITE A FRIEND TO THE TEAM!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
ABRAHAM, Following In The Footprints Of Faith , 2/28/2012
STANDING UP FROM BEFORE THE DEAD, Lesson 32
We have been privileged to walk with Abraham through the peaks and valleys of a life well lived. We have seen him leave his homeland to walk with God by faith. We have witnessed his successes and his failures. We have seen him as he experienced the joy of childbirth and watched as he willingly gave that child up to the will of the Lord. Abraham's life has been filled with the best and the worst that life can dish out.
Genesis 22 took this man to the pinnacle of faith and obedience. This chapter takes into the depths of the valley of the shadow of death. Here, as we watch him say goodbye to his wife Sarah, we see a man who has learned to walk by faith as he weathers the storms of life. I would like for us to watch Abraham in these verses as he teaches us how to live the life of faith even when tragedy enters our view. Let’s look now at the thought “Standing Up Before The Dead“.
V. 1-3a IT WAS A TIME OF FAREWELLS
The Sadness Of Separation - We are told that Abraham's wife of some 70 years has died. This kind of separation is part of everyone's life, (Heb. 9:27), but when it comes, we are never quite prepared for the hurt it brings. Thank god, the cruel messenger of death will be done away with forever one day, (Rev. 21:4; 1 Cor. 15:26).
The Sting Of Sorrow - When death entered the home of Abraham, it broke his heart. The Bible says that he came to "mourn" and to "weep". These words mean "to wail" and to "shed tears", respectively. By the way, this is a natural reaction to death! There are times when we hear people tell us not to weep over our dead, but when they are stripped from our presence, it is impossible not to weep for and miss them. F. B. Meyer said this, "Tears relieve the burning brain, as a shower does the electric clouds. Tears discharge the insupportable agony of the hearer, as an overflow lessens the pressure of the flood against the dam. Tears are the material out of which heaven weaves its brightest rainbows. Tears are transmuted into the jewels of better life, as the wounds in the oyster turn to pearls." When death has intruded into the land of the living, do not fear their cleansing needful ministry in your life.
The Strength Of Steadfastness - The Bible tells us that "Abraham stood up from before his dead". This means that when the mourning period was over, Abraham moved on with his life. You see, grief is a normal part of living, but there is a time when grief must reach an end. Sorrow over death is natural, but sorrow that does not end is unnatural. A woman told me yesterday that she has grieved for her parents for over 15 years. Folks that is not godly sorrow! We are told in the Bible, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.", (1 Thes. 4:13). May we learn to rejoice over our loved ones who, like Sarah, have entered the realms of light, (2 Cor. 5:8)! One day, we will join them there!
V. 3b-16 IT WAS A TIME OF FAITHFULNESS
Abraham has been given all the land by the promise of God. However, He does not own one square inch of the land at this point. He goes to speak to the men of the city to acquire a place to bury the dead.
V. 4a Abraham Declares His Identity - He tells the men of the city that he is still a pilgrim among them. He has lived here some 62 years at this point, but he has never settled down. He says that he is a "newcomer" and is just one "passing through". Even after all this time, he has never set down his roots in this world. What a lesson to the children of God! As long as our roots do not go too deeply in this world, we will not become too entangled in its affairs. May we never forget our identity! We are pilgrims and strangers, (1 Pet. 2:11), in this world. Let us so live and not settle down, but keep traveling, looking for that city that will be our eternal home!
V. 4b-16 Abraham Demonstrates His Integrity - In order to secure a place to bury his wife, Abraham strikes a deal with one of the sons of Heth, a man by the name of Ephron. Abraham mentions a certain piece of property and Ephron offers to give it to him, but Abraham refuses, because he does not want to be indebted to any man, (v. 13). This is a good lesson for every child of God! We need to beware that we owe no man anything but love, (Rom. 13:8). When Ephron sees that he has the advantage over Abraham, he charges him far more than fair price, but instead of standing up for himself, Abraham humbly accepts the offer. Having to pay for land that God has promised to give him might have caused many men to stumble, but Abraham was able to see beyond the present into a future where it was all his anyway. Even in trials, Abraham was a man of integrity! How you conduct yourself when the pressure is on says more about you than how you act when things are good! One of the best example in the Bible of integrity under pressure is Job, (Job 1:20-22)!
V. 17-20 IT WAS A TIME OF FAITH
The fact that Abraham buried his wife in the cave in Hebron, shows the depths of his faith in the Lord God. Of course, Abraham's faith is well known and documented, even in the New Testament, (Heb. 11:13-16). In Abraham's life, we can see faith exhibited in three areas.
We See His Faith In The Promises Of God - He was able to buy the cave with confidence seeing that he already owned the land in trust. It had been given to him by the precious promise of God, (Gen. 13:15-17). He knew that one day, he and his descendants would be buried in this very cave. But, he was able, by faith, to see far beyond this. He was able to see a day when he would stand with Sarah, in the presence of the Lord in Heaven, (Heb. 11:9-10)! This same faith dwelled in the heart of Job, (Job 19:25-27). It should dwell in our hearts as well, (John 14:1-3). When we are able to look beyond the present to the things we have been given in promise, by faith, it secures the heart, frees the mind and strengths the hands to work, (Heb. 11:1)! When we know we are going home some day, it makes the trials of this journey bearable!
We See His Faith In The Plan Of God - Abraham knew that even as he buried Sarah here, there would come a day when his descendants would inherit this land and would dwell there. Because of this great knowledge, Abraham was able to endure his grief, his pain and his losses. He knew that God's plan is always best, (Rom. 8:28). If we could ever grasp that truth it would change our lives! It would spell the end of our second guessing, our worrying and our "whys?" and "What if's". God has a perfect plan and it is not meant to hurt you, but it is meant to produce His image in your life, (Rom. 8:29). It is meant to glorify His name and to further His kingdom in this world. The best thing we can ever do is to submit humbly and wholly to what the Lord is doing in and around us!
We See His Faith In The Power Of God - Even as he stared death in the face, Abraham was able to walk in victory because he knew that he was serving a God Who controlled all the affairs of life and of death! He knew that even though his pain was great and his loss was terrible, in the end, he would come out a winner because God resides on the throne! Would to God we could remember that always! We are not going to be in this world with all its pain and heartache forever! The day is coming when we will leave this world for a new home in glory. When that day comes, we will enjoy the victory! The bottom line is this: I have read the conclusion of the book! We have already won all there is to win, we must just wait until the victory we already hold by faith is beheld by the eyes!
Conc: There are times when we all look at an impossible situation and wonder how much more we can take. Let me tell you now that God's grace is sufficient for you in everything you will face in this life, (2 Cor. 12:9). He will give you grace to stand up from your dead and to go on for His glory, until the battle is over. I do not know what you might be facing today, but I do know that faith is where your victory lies, (1 John 5:4)! What will it take to get you to stand up from your dead? Whatever it is, the Lord has it. Come get it!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“His Grace Reaches Me” by W. Gleason (1964)
Deeper than the ocean and wider than the sea is the grace of the Savior for sinners like me
Sent from the Father and it thrills my soul Just to feel and to know That His blood makes me whole.
His grace reaches me Yes, His grace reaches me And ‘twill last thru eternity
Now I'm under His control and I'm happy in my soul Just to know that His grace reaches me
Higher than the mountain and brighter than the sun it was offered at Calv'ry for ev'ry one
Greatest of treasures and it's mine today Tho' my sins were as scarlet He has washed them away.
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Monday, February 27, 2012
ABRAHAM, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/27/2012
v. 5 WORSHIP’S SEPARATION, Lesson 31b
When this small band of pilgrims arrived at the place God revealed to Abraham, a separation took place. He said, “... unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” Those two young men were not a part of the worship experience. They would have hindered Abraham from doing what the Lord had called him to do. Therefore, they had to be left behind. The only two elements allowed in the place of worship was Abraham and the treasure of his heart.
There is a lesson here for the person who would worship God today. There are many things in life that would hinder our worship. Like those two young men, things would intrude themselves into our worship that have no business being there. We must say to those things, “Abide ye here, while I go yonder and worship.”
We are all aware of the things that compete for our attention when we seek to worship the Lord. Meals have been prepared in services set aside for worship. Problems have been thought through, relationships pondered, and deals struck in services set aside for worship. All the things that would hinder us: the problems of the flesh, the mind, the world, etc., must be banished when we go to seek the Lord in worship. Anything that distracts the mind from Him is a hindrance to genuine, biblical worship.
Heb. 10:21-22 says, “And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith...” We have a “High Priest”, that is the privilege of God’s grace. Since we have been given that privilege, we have a responsibility. We are to “draw near with a true heart.” This is a call to approach the Lord with a heart that is focused wholly on Him. Anything that would distract the mind must be cast out and left behind so that we, like Abraham, can go from “here” to “yonder”.
For Abraham, the place of worship was not “here” in the valley with the young men, it was “yonder” on the mountain with the Lord. If I am going to worship, the I too must move from “here” to “yonder”. The only way I can do that is separate my mind from any that would hinder it from being totally given over to Him. (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 10:5)
What occupies your mind when you come to worship? What has had your attention in this service?
v. 5 WORSHIP’S SELF-DENIAL
When Abraham told to young men that he was going up to “worship”, he knew that it meant the sacrifice of his son. This was nothing less than absolute self-denial on Abraham’s part. He yielded himself to the will of God with no regard for his own will or feelings. He sacrificed his opinions, his desires, his will, his preferences, and his very future to the glory of God.
Abraham’s worship was not about him; it was about the Lord. Abraham did not seek to worship in a way that would allow him to be exalted; he worshiped in a way that brought all glory to God. In other words, Abraham lost himself in the person of God. Abraham forgot about self and did only thing which glorified the Lord.
The believer would worship must learn the truth of Philippians 3:3, which says, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” If we would worship the Lord, then we must not come to Him full of ourselves. We must come to Him full of the very thing that delights His heart. Nothing delights the heart of God more than His Son Jesus.
On more than one occasion, God said, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” God is infinitely delighted with His Son. If I will enter His presence with a mind and heart full of Christ; if I will speak of the glories of His Darling Son; if I make my worship focused on Jesus, my worship will rise before the Lord like sweet incense.
I am simply reminding us that worship is never about us. We can’t worship as long as we are focused on self. If we would worship the Lord, we must cease to exalt self and we must focus on exalting Him and Him alone! Real worship happens when we forget about self and get lost in His glory for His glory!
v. 16-18 WORSHIP’S SERVICE
Abraham climbed that mountain with Isaac. Abraham answered Isaac’s fears. Abraham took his son, bond him and placed him on the altar. Abraham raised the knife and fully intended to sacrifice his son to the Lord. He held nothing back! He yielded every ounce of self to the perfect will of God. God intervened and provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in the place of Isaac.
In the end, Abraham’s worship served to glorify God alone. Abraham’s faith and act of selfless worship delighted the heart of God. It also brought a statement of appreciation from the Lord.
When we devote ourselves to selfless worship we bring glory to Him. Psa. 50:23 quotes God as saying, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” True biblical worship gives God the place of absolute preeminence in our lives. He alone is glorified in genuine worship. That is how worship serves the Lord!
v. 16-18 WORSHIP’S SATISFACTION
God will be no man’s debtor! After Abraham’s demonstration of absolute faith in God, God gave Isaac back to him. Abraham ascended that mountain with a heavy heart. He was going to honor God, but honoring God would cost him his son. He obeyed God, and in return, God rewarded Abraham. He might have climbed the mountain scared and defeated, but he came down rejoicing and thankful. He might have climbed that mountain questioning the ways of God, but he came back down understanding God better than he ever had. He might have climbed that mountain ready to give up his Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, but he came back down more thankful than ever for Isaac. When Abraham placed Isaac on the altar, God gave him back, and Isaac was more precious than he had ever been before!
One of the greatest blessings of genuine, biblical worship is that it brings the manifold blessings of God back to the believer. God will honor those who honor Him through worship. When we are willing to sacrifice all that we have, all that we are, and all that we care about on the altar of His glory, He will respond by blessing us and using us in greater ways than we could ever imagine.
The greatest key to having God’s power and presence manifested in our lives is worship. If we could just learn to take all that we are and yield it to all that He is, we would enjoy greater spiritual blessings than we have ever dreamed up. If we could learn to offer up real worship to Almighty God, He would honor us with His blessings.
As we respond in worship to all that Jesus is, as He is revealed in the Word of God, God responds by doing for us what he did for Abraham. He gives us the Son in greater measure. That is, he gives us a greater appreciate for the Person of Christ and the gifts of Christ.
When we worship Christ in light of His death on the cross, the cross becomes more precious. As we worship Him in His resurrection, His resurrection become more precious. As we worship Him for grace, love, salvation ,eternal life, heaven, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the church, and everything else He has given to us in Christ, those things become infinitely more precious to us.
When we give God pure worship for Who He is and what He has done for us, He responds by giving those things back to us in greater degree. It is not that we have more of those things, it is that those things become more real and precious to us. That is one of the great benefits of true worship.
Conc: Abraham’s worship honored the Lord. He placed all that he was and all that he had on the altar of submission and humble obedience to the God Who loved him and saved him. In response, God blessed Abraham in ways he could never have imagined. Have you examined your worship in light of what we have learned from Abraham? Are you worshiping Him as he is revealed to you in the Word of God, the source of worship? Are you absolutely submissive to His will? Is you worship sacrificial? Are you practicing self-denial and separation? Does your worship serve the Lord by glorifying Him? Does your worship provide satisfaction as he becomes more precious to you? Or, is there room for improvement in your worship? If the Lord has spoken to you about your worship, come to Him today and let Him work in your heart to bring you to a place of pleasing, biblical worship.
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“None of Self and All of Thee” By T. Monod (1874).
1. Oh, the bitter pain and sorrow That a time could ever be, When I proudly said to Jesus,
"All of self and none of Thee." All of self and none of Thee, All of self and none of Thee,
When I proudly said to Jesus, All of self and none of Thee."
2. Yet He found me; I beheld Him, Bleeding on th' accursed tree; And my wistful heart said faintly, "Some of self and some of Thee." Some of self and some of Thee, Some of self and some of Thee, And my wistful heart said faintly, "Some of self and some of Thee."
3. Day by day His tender mercy, Healing, helping, full and free, Brought me lower, while I whispered, "Less of self and more of Thee." Less of self and more of Thee, Less of self and more of Thee, Brought me lower while I whispered, "Less of self and more of Thee."
4. Higher than the highest heavens, Deeper than the deepest sea, Lord, Thy love at last has conquered, "None of self and all of Thee." None of self and all of Thee, None of self and all of Thee, Lord, Thy love at last has conquered, "None of self and all of Thee."
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